Maiden’s Tower History,
The Kiz Kulesi (Maiden`s Tower bult 2500 years ago), the age-old symbol of love and romance, happens to be the landmark of Turkey.
Originally built to control the enemy fleet as a watchtower then transformed into a lighthouse and now its used as a major tourist attraction with a built restaurant and cafe which provides a romantic atmosphere for couples to enjoy the superb views of the Istanbul.
Maiden's Tower was first built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait. Back then the tower was located between the ancient cities of Byzantion and Chrysopolis. The tower was later enlarged and rebuilt as a fortress by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1110 AD, and was restored and slightly modified several times by the Ottoman Turks, most significantly in 1509 and 1763. The most recent facelift was made in 1998. Steel supports were added around the ancient tower as a precaution after the 17 August 1999 earthquake. Used as a lighthouse for centuries, the interior of the tower has been transformed into a popular café and restaurant, with an excellent view of the former Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capital.
Private boats make trips to the tower several times a day. The stone structure appearing in each and every pictorial treatise of Istanbul (rather Turkey), has two very captivating tales associated with it. The name `Maiden`s Tower` has its roots in the more popular story relating a maiden`s misfortune. According to this tale, a beautiful Byzantine princess was once quartered in this tower. It is said that soothsayers had predicted her early death by snakebite. Her father, Emperor Constantine who loved her dearly, built an extended castle (near the spot where the present tower exists) and placed her there to avert the fatal end. Eventually the girl died of snakebite, which entered the castle in a grape basket.
The other story doing the rounds links it to the Leander-Hero romance and gives it the name Leander Tower. This tale tells that a castle was built on the present site by a Byzantine Emperor for his daughter Hero. When the Emperor learnt that his daughter had a love affair with a commoner named Leander, he imprisoned Hero in the castle. This could not dispirit Leander who, being of athletic-make, would cross Hellespont to see Hero. One stormy night he had no light to guide him and drowned. Hero, hearing of the mishap, flung herself into the sea. The history of this grand structure dates back to antiquity. Built around 419 B.C. as per instructions of the Greek Commander Alcibiades, the initial structure was a watchtower. With a near-complete view of the Black Sea, sentinels stationed at the tower would keep a watch on trespassers and enemy fleets.
In the 12th century, the Byzantine Emperor Komnenos converted this tower into a fortress and practically blocked the entryway through the strait of Bosphorus. The legends apart, there seems ample evidence of the fact that during the Byzantine rule the tower was used as a prison. Used as a station to collect customs duties from the ships anchoring in and entering the land, the Tower was transformed to a lighthouse in this period. By the time the Turks arrived and finally captured Istanbul, the Tower was a dilapidated structure. They undertook the heavy task of restoration and erected a fully renovated wooden tower. The wooden tower caught fire while on duty lighting the way for passing-by ships was gutted. The present stone tower was built during the reign of Ahmet III in 1719. Thus, sharing its history with the very history of Istanbul, the Maiden`s Tower has stood witness to many events and has very much been a part of every time frame.